Teen who died in HSE aftercare unable to access 'appropriate' accommodation after prison release, inquest hears
A TEENAGER who died of a drug overdose while in HSE aftercare was unable to access 'appropriate' accommodation upon his release from prison, an inquest heard.
Danny Talbot (19) of no fixed abode, died of respiratory failure due to a toxic combination of methadone and benzodiazepines. He was found dead at a flat on Berkeley Street, Dublin 7 on August 4, 2009, where he’d been staying temporarily with a man he met on the street.
Dublin Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned a verdict of death by misadventure following lengthy inquest proceedings into his death.
Speaking after the inquest, Danny’s aunt, Donna Lambe said the verdict brought closure to the family. “We just want lessons to be learned from his case,” she said.
The Coroner said he will write to the Irish Prison Service after it emerged that Focus Ireland, providing aftercare for Danny on behalf of the HSE, were not informed the teen was in Cloverhill prison. Dublin Coroner's Court heard Danny's engagement with services was 'voluntary' and 'sporadic'.
Karen Doyle, assistant project leader at Focus Ireland’s North Dublin Aftercare at the time of Danny’s death, said a social worker who visited Danny in prison had left her job and was not replaced before Danny was released. Upon his release, Danny contacted the Caretakers Hostel, Back Lane, Dublin 8 seeking accommodation.
“At Caretakers they said he was in good form, he looked well and was presenting drug free,” Ms Doyle said.
The Caretakers hostel was not ideal, but it was ‘not the worst option’, Ms Doyle said.
Both she and Caretakers' staff had concerns the accommodation was inappropriate, because the hostel targets active drug users and Danny had emerged from prison drug-free.
Homeless advocate Fr Peter McVerry secured a 20-day placement at Cuan Mhuire drug rehabilitation programme and had offered to drive Danny there. The rehab centre was a ‘wonderful option’ according to Ms Doyle. She said Danny was ‘thinking about it’ the last time she spoke to him but ultimately he did not take up the offer.
Brian Barrington BL, representing Danny’s aunt Sandra Lambe, said a review of accommodation options for young people in receipt of state aftercare leaving prison drug-free was required to ensure ‘they have the best chance possible to maintain a drug-free status.'
“The sad thing in this case is that we were very nearly there, by a number of days,” Mr Barrington said.
Last year Tusla apologised and acknowledged 'considerable shortcomings' in Danny’s care following a report by the National Review Panel.
Acknowledging the report, the coroner said he will contact the Irish Prison Service with regard to the post-release co-ordinaton of young persons in state aftercare.
“I will also write to the Child and Family Agency asking for a review of the provision for young persons such as Danny leaving prison,” Dr Farrell said.